Thursday, January 5, 2012

Democracy in Libya: New election law drafted

“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.
He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape.
He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission.
Daniel 11:40-43

On January 1, 2012, a draft of a new electoral law for Libya was published online in Arabic. Isobel Coleman of that notorious antichrist organization, the Council on Foreign Relations--whose members include Rick Warren--offers some of the details of the new law in a post on the CFR blog, January 4, 2012:

The electoral laws will govern the election of a national constituent assembly that will replace the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). The assembly will subsequently appoint a prime minister, form a commission to write a constitution, hold a constitutional referendum, write a new electoral law, and hold general elections to elect a permanent government.

Just fifteen pages, the electoral law is very specific on some points and uncomfortably vague on others. It makes no provisions for the formation of political parties, which were previously illegal. It also leaves unanswered the pressing question of how the country will be divided into voting districts. The law simply states, “Dividing the country into voting districts is one of the goals of organizing the elections.” It also acknowledges that population and geography should be considered when the election committee issues a decision on this. However when this issue is decided, some groups are going to be unhappy. The NTC itself struggled to balance the demands of different cities and groups in forming the current interim government. Wary of being left out of the new power structure, various tribal groups and militias continue to refuse to disarm and disband...

...Where the electoral law is specific, it raises other issues. Women are allocated 10 percent of the 200 seats in the national assembly, but this small quota has outraged human rights groups who feel that it neither reflects the extent of women’s participation in the revolution, nor the number of capable female candidates. The law also denotes twenty categories of people that are excluded from running from public office, largely with the intent to exlude people who profited from the previous regime or who were associated with Qaddafi’s family either in politics, business, or academia. Some clauses seem to target a very small number of individuals, such as the clause prohibiting, “anyone who opposed the previous regime from outside the country and then negotiated with them to take up a leading position in the state apparatus.” Others, like the clause that exludes, “anyone who was not supportive of the February 17 revolution from its beginning,” are vague enough that they could be applied widely. The law has further upset some Libyans because it stipulates that Libyans with dual nationalities must relinquish their other nationality before running in the elections. Resentment of those who left by those who stayed has plagued Afghan politics in the past decade – it looks like an issue that will fester in Libya too.

During the next two weeks, Libyans can submit their comments and suggestions for amending the law through the electoral commission’s website (the commission has also set up a Facebook page). The commission will review comments and publish a final draft of the electoral law on January 23.

It will come as no surprise to this blogger if elections in Libya produce yet another Islamist government, as has been the case in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.

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